Presentation on theme: "Foundational Studies. Definition An essay is – a fairly brief analytic or interpretative literary piece of non-fiction that tries to assert a particular."— Presentation transcript:
Definition An essay is – a fairly brief analytic or interpretative literary piece of non-fiction that tries to assert a particular point of view in a fresh, creative, and insightful way. But what does this mean?
It is “fairly brief” The word “essay” usually refers to short pieces that may be published in magazines or newspapers. In college writing, an essay may range in size from a few paragraphs to 10-15 pages (undergraduate level) or 30 pages (graduate classes), 200 pages (Master’s thesis) or 500 pages (Ph.D. Dissertation).
It is analytic or interpretative In an essay, the writer presents his or her own analysis or interpretation of whatever topic (or portion of the topic) has been chosen for the writing. An essay is not a report. A report presents only the facts and evidence, it does not include any of the views, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, or feelings of the writer. An essay does. This means an essay is, by definition, an opinion piece.
It is a literary piece Like other forms of literature (fiction, poetry, and drama), essays are written using creative literary techniques. This means in writing essays, you want to use description, imagery, analogies, figurative language (such as similes, metaphors, symbols, apostrophes, synecdoches), dialogue, flashbacks, etc., as well as perhaps summaries, paraphrases, direct and indirect quotes.
It is a literary piece of non-fiction Although the essay is a literary form, it is strictly a piece of non-fiction. This means that the writer of an essay is trying to tell the truth, not just to entertain. To say that an essay is non-fiction doesn’t mean that every word is literally true; it may include hypothetical examples or quotes from fictional works to support or illustrate the truth being expressed by the writer.
It asserts a particular point of view This is perhaps the most important and the most challenging aspect of an essay. This is what separates an essay from other forms of non-fiction, such as an article in a newspaper or encyclopedia. It aims to support a single claim. An essay isn’t just about a topic; its purpose to illustrate, demonstrate, or further develop a single statement, called a “thesis.”
It’s fresh, creative, and insightful. An essay seeks to find a new and different way of approaching a topic. It doesn’t just present the same information – same views – as everyone else. It explores what viewpoints have been expressed (research) and then seeks to present it in a different way – highlight ideas, connections, inferences, or underlying motivations or contexts that haven’t been discussed, or argue ideas, definitions, inferences, deductions, etc., made by others.
It’s fresh, creative, and insightful Therefore, you do not want to “follow the crowd” in how you understand and discuss the subject – but you want to discover your own views, your own thoughts, your own voice. An observer and a painter may look at the same scene, but through the painter’s “creative eye,” he may highlight some aspect of the scene that the observer failed to see. In writing an essay, you should strive to be the painter – not the observer.
In other words -- An essay does not just regurgitate information that others have written or expressed. It tries to add to the conversation by adding something new – something different. It expresses its ideas with such clarity, unique imagery, description, analogies, etc., that the reader gains a whole new perspective and feel for the subject through the writer’s literary work.